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Friday, September 9, 2016

Favorite High School Lessons

Every spring, I survey readers, both to get feedback on how to make Teaching Montana History better, and to gather everyone’s favorite lessons so I can share them with the group. I love learning what has actually worked in the classroom—and being able to share teacher-approved lessons. So, without further ado, here are some of the answers high school teachers gave to the question “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.” Stay tuned for future posts featuring the answers from middle and high school teachers. [I've added a few comments and links in brackets--couldn't resist putting my oar in.] 

Kim Konen, Beaverhead County High School, wrote: “I really enjoy using all of the Native American lesson plans especially the unit where the kids can create their own winter count.” [Kim may be referring to the National Museum of the American Indian's lesson plan on Lone Dog's Winter Count. You can find our Native American lesson plans here.] 

Bruce Wendt, Billings West, wrote: “Mike Mansfield--a human being no Montana student should leave school without knowing about his contributions.”

Several teachers responded with topics rather than lessons: War of the Copper Kings elections, Montana women, ledger art, homesteading. [I’ve added links to resources on these topics, which may or may not be the resources these teachers used.] 

Lorrie Tatsey, from Browning High School, wrote this reminder: “The footlockers are ideal for any age.”

One teacher wrote: "I have had my students look through historical newspapers to get a glimpse of what life was like.  They choose 5 ads and write a brief bio of a person based on what was for sale." [Two great resources for newspaper research are Chronicling America and Montana Newspapers.]

Used biographies from Montana Historical Society, working with Grade 10 English [Possibly, this teacher is referring to our lesson plan "Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things! Connecting Biography to Larger Social Themes." Find all our Teaching with Biographies resources here

Little Bighorn Battlefield fieldtrip

Mary Jo Bremner, of Browning High School, teaches her students “What the Marshall Trilogy means to Indian Country and how these Supreme Court decisions still influence today.” They talk about setting precedence in Indian Country, whether it should be changed and how it could be.

Betty Bennett at Missoula Sentinel wrote: “I really liked using Blood on the Marias with Fools Crow.  I'm also thrilled with the unit from the Richest Hills on the Chinese in Butte and the Bitzer-Ah Chow Incident. [Resources to do this lesson are here]. We're following up with a field trip to the Mai Wah Museum next week in Butte.  There are others I really like as well and rely on the IEFA units for big units I do with Native American Literature and research every spring.” (She uses these units with juniors.) 

Special education teacher Jane Kolstad from Glasgow wrote: “I am currently reading:  Counting Coup by Joseph Medicine Crow.  I am using the IEFA Model Teaching Unit as a guideline.  I do this every year and the kids love it.  The extra resources are amazing.  We watched a video on the Battle of the Little Bighorn where Mr. Medicine Crow speaks.  It is a nice piece because the kids get to hear the voice behind the story.  We are also going to watch the Montana PBS video on Indian Relay which features a Crow youth in the competition.”

One teacher was intrigued by an article we posted last year about Greenlander children taken from home and placed in Danish boarding schools, to use as part of her boarding schools lesson.

Jennifer Graham, from Granite High School in Philipsburg, wrote: “A field trip to the Historical Society.....IT IS AMAZING!  Every student in Montana needs to go see what is there and experience the museum.” [Thanks for the shout out Jennifer. We have great standard field trip options but we are also happy to work with you to personalize your students’ experience. For example, we have had several teachers bring students to our research center to conduct research on specific Montana history topics and have designed special gallery tours and scavenger hunts focused on specific eras and topics—for example territorial Montana and women’s history.] 

Stay tuned for Favorite Middle School Lessons and Resources next week. You can find teacher favorites from previous years by clicking on the "best of" tag.

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